by Casting Director Megan Foley
Hello everyone! I hope you are all well and working on your careers while it is so slow in town. I received a lot of good questions this month and hope that I can help. I am going to get right to it this month, but keep your questions coming. I really enjoy answering them…
My 11 yr old daughter is semi-new to the industry and I’m not really familiar with the ins and outs of the business. My daughter has been doing background work for about four years now and we've just been having fun with it. She is really more interested in doing print/modeling than acting.
Recently, she did a background job and she received a SAG talent voucher. I called SAG and they told me that she already has three vouchers (I guess I didn't pay much attention to them before) and then something about how she has 30 days to join or she can't work anymore union jobs!? I really didn't understand. But I do know that it cost quite a bit to join, and I am wondering if this something necessary for us to do? However, I don't want her to miss out on opportunities, either.
Thanks, C & M
DEAR C & M.
Some people would be so happy to have three vouchers! So here is the deal… If she really just wants to model and do print work, she does not need to join SAG, and she can do all the non- union work she wants. If she gets another union job though, she will have to join SAG and you have 30 days to do it. You must pay the full fee at the time. So if you are going to continue to audition, you need to start saving that money… she can always work non-union extra work if she enjoys that, though joining the union certainly pays better and protects her better and provides other benefits.
There are two ways to join the union. The first is to get hired as a principal in a union job. When that happens, a casting director fills out a Taft Hartley form that allows the actor to work as many union days as they can in 30 days. After that, they have to join the union if they want to keep working within the union. This is a federal act, and more information can be found out about it by contacting SAG or on the internet. The other way is to work in a non-union capacity on a union job. When that happens, you are given “vouchers”. Three vouchers allow you to join the union without being Taft Hartley-ed… Probably more information than you need but hopefully I answered your question.
Thanks for your time and information. I am a SAG/AEA working actor living in SF and work in LA when I can. I've done four indie features, two in LA.
1) What advice can you give regarding research on temporary places to rent while I'm working or looking for work?
2) What would you consider to be the best "Cold Reading" audition workshops for film as well as commercials?
3) What are the dates of your commercial workshop that you hold once a month?
Thanks so much,
So are you thinking of moving to LA? There is work in San Francisco, but so much more in LA. If you are thinking about making a permanent move, you should see if you can rent a room somewhere until you can find a place… just make sure you are safe. The valley is cheaper than the beach and the Hollywood area and of course the further out you go, the cheaper it gets. Craigslist is a good place to look but nothing beats just driving around looking for signs.
I can’t really give advice on cold reading workshops but I can say that a good resource to find them is The Working Actor’s Guide or Backstage West. Once you get situated here in Los Angeles, word-of-mouth is also a very good way to find just about everything.
As for my classes you can check out my website (meganfoleycasting.com) for dates and information, though it is usually the first or second Saturday of the month.
You sent a woman to childreninfilm.com for advice. They now charge a fee to even look at their website! I am the parent of a teen actress and I have found www.bizparentz.com it’s a very informative group and they are only out to help people not charge a monthly fee. Check them out and/or let other parents know.
Thank you, I will pass it on. The Children in Film website still has a free area, but the enhanced website does indeed cost a monthly fee, so you would have to judge for yourself if you think it is worth it. On the enhanced site, I know that there are a lot of auditions posted but you may or may not want that information. I’ve recently found out about another site that was put up by a working studio teacher who wanted a very clear and simple site for parents to navigate and to get loads of helpful information in a concise format. The site is www.setteacher.com and it is great! Take a look for yourself.
My two children are both excited to get into industry. My daughter who is eight years old has done a couple of paid extra roles. I met an agent about a year ago after my daughter did these jobs and wanted to continue to do this. This agent signed her and her brother who is turning 14 to LA Casting. To this day, a year later, my daughter has been sent to about three auditions and my son to one audition directly from the agent. I am also set up to receive emails from LA Casting for them and I usually do all the work on submitting them for roles with only maybe two times being called back for an audition out of it (usually non paying roles). I feel there could be more done, but I am not sure if the agency they are with is the right one or, if I should be doing more...? Can you suggest what I should do please? I am also thinking of signing them both up to an extra agency just so they can be exposed to more work...please help!
Well, I think you should think about if they want to be extras or be principals. Then decide what to do from there. If they want to do extra work, then sign up with an extras agency and look for work through LA Casting roles. If they want to do principal work, they need to be studying and working on building their talent and getting experience. I am not sure what is happening with your agent. You are not “signed” with LA Casting but signed with your agent who uses that as a tool to submit actors to us for specific jobs. If you think your kids should be going out more, that is a conversation you need to have with your agent. Maybe their pictures are not working for them, or maybe they are very specific types, but this is something you should talk to your agent about. Don’t be afraid to go and talk to them to discuss the careers of your kids… Most agents welcome the dialogue and input.
I just returned to the industry after nearly a 18 year absence. Now I am in my early sixties and go out for these parts, but they think I look too young to be a grandmother etc. I even took a photo without makeup, just lipstick and that photo is not working either. See the photos of Eve Holmes. Should I take a photo with a gray wig, glasses and a shawl? Thank you.
Well, I think it’s how you see yourself. If you think you can do “typical” grandma, then you should have some pictures like that. However, if you just look like a younger woman with a wig, then that won’t work for you either. There are so many jobs these days when they are looking for older, fit and healthy grandmas and not looking for the “typical” ones. What does our agent have to say about it? If you have an agent, they should help guide you along this path.
You're a wonderful writer! Thanks for taking the time to answer questions in spite of your hectic schedule. I've taken a few acting classes and landed a couple of small roles. I’ve seen in a previous response that you disagree that a ‘person shouldn't be getting an agent too soon.' I've been waiting for someone, I mean anyone, to say that! I feel confident as an actor and feel ready to submit for an agent, but I'm getting the general impression from others that you have to have a minimum amount of experience or exposure for the agents to even look at your submission. I just don't know what that minimum is. Should I hold off and get more experience before I spend money on professional headshots, and mailing submissions out? Or should I just do it and see what happens while I continue to build my experience? I appreciate you reading this. Is there any light you can shed on this topic?
I sure empathize with what you are going through. My feeling is this: you have to follow your gut instinct…if you are feeling ready to test the water then jump in. Don’t let other people influence your decision on when or when you’re not ready. If you really feel you are, then go for it! You should get professional headshots… meet with several photographers before you make your decision and again, go with your gut feeling. Don’t base it just on price or how good their book looks but on if you think they “get you”. And then start to do Agent showcases if you can. There are lots of good ones so do some research. Who can say whether you have ENOUGH experience? Just get out there if you feel ready, but continue to study… you will continue to grow and get better.
Megan Foley has been casting commercially and theatrically for 20 years. She speaks around the country and teaches a one day commercial intensive once a month with her husband and partner, Chuck Marra. We have just re-located to On Your Mark Studios at 13425 Ventura Blvd. Sherman Oak, CA 91423.
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